Typical The Register looking for every negative re-Apple as usual. As a developer, I'm actually very much in favour of the pay to submit to the AppStore model. The amount charged doesn't exactly break the bank, and it gets rid of all the bedroom programmers who will be submitting the fart and cat photo apps who are in danger of reducing the ratio of signal to noise to something awful. The end user interested in useful apps doesn't want an App Store like that. The Pro-programmer doing serious work and seeking to make a living doesn't want it and the Appstore becomes unnavigable if there is too much crapware (discovery is already enough of a headache as it is).
Of course its important to encourage beginners, and everyone has to start somewhere, but you can, because you can download XCode for free, and this year Apple have changed the model such that everyone can compile code and install it on the device (previously if you had not joined the program, you could only install on the simulator).
You only have to pay to join the App Store once you are ready to distribute code. Also given Apple allow free apps, but review all apps before releasing them on the Appstore, it seems to me quite reasonable to charge at this stage, as that is when they are incurring the cost. Plus of course you get the opportunity to submit two incident report tickets should you need dedicated help from Apple.